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ADHD in Children

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Apr 2, 2024.

What is attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)?

ADHD is a condition that affects your child's behavior. Your child may be overactive and have a short attention span. ADHD may make it difficult for him or her to do well at home or in school. He or she may also have problems getting along with other people. ADHD usually starts before age 12 and is more common among boys. The exact cause of ADHD is not known.

What increases my child's risk for ADHD?

What are the signs and symptoms of ADHD in children?

ADHD has 2 main types, inattention and hyperactivity (including being impulsive). Each type has 9 possible symptoms. Your child may have more symptoms of one type, or a combination of the 2 types. A combination is most common. Your child may do any of the following:

How is ADHD diagnosed?

Healthcare providers use a guide to diagnose ADHD. The guide contains the signs and symptoms of ADHD from the 2 types. You, your child's teachers, or your child may be given a rating scale that contains all 18 symptoms. The scale has a place to mark if each symptom has been noticed in your child. It can also be used to record how much each symptom stops your child from doing his or her daily activities. Your younger child must have at least 6 out of 9 symptoms from at least one of the types. Your adolescent must have at least 5 out of 9 symptoms from at least one of the types. At any age, your child must have symptoms for at least 6 months that are not caused by other problems. These symptoms must be severe enough to cause problems in 2 or more settings, such as home and school. Some symptoms must be present before the age of 12.

How is ADHD treated?

The goal of treatment is to help your child learn how to control his or her behavior.

Treatment options

The following list of medications are related to or used in the treatment of this condition.

View more treatment options

What can I do to support my child?

Call your local emergency number (911 in the US) for any of the following:

When should I call my child's doctor?

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your child's care. Learn about your child's health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your child's healthcare providers to decide what care you want for your child. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.